Monday, August 06, 2007

We Have a Winner!

We spent a long weekend in the Bay Area and in Sonoma County so Gina could compete in the Barb's Race Triathlon which is one of the events expertly promoted by the Vineman organization.

Barb's Race is half-ironman distance--1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run--in other words, a long freakin' way. Gina had been uncharacteristically nervous about this race. A week or so ago, she snapped at me for no apparent reason (my perspective of course) and being the sensitive type that I am, I asked what the heck was up with that. She started crying and admitted she was really on edge and nervous about this race. It should have been more clear to me. She trained harder and with more focus for this race than for anything athletic she had ever done before. Every week for the last several months, she has done a couple days of Masters swimming plus an ocean swim or two, a couple of bike rides including some 3-4 hour rides on Saturdays, and her usual dose of running. And that's in addition to teaching a handful of group fitness classes at the gym. That's a lot of work to culminate in a single event where you hope everything falls into place. Not like bike racing... every weekend gives you another chance. Not a huge deal if you don't time your peak just right, or you get a flat, or simply don't feel good one day.

Fortunately, everything worked out perfectly.

I cracked up at the length of the pre-race potty line. Just like a bike race!

The race began in Guerneville with the up-and-back swim in the Russian River. We'd never been to Guerneville (pronounced "Gurn-ville", not "Gurney-ville") and found it to be a cute little touristy town in the Redwoods. I didn't know this before, but it's a popular weekend get-away for many in the Bay Area gay community. The only thing I knew about Guerneville was that it flooded a few years ago when the Russian River crested way above its banks (see picture). I can just imagine what the right-wingnut religious morons like Jerry Falwell said about that flooding.

Anyway, flooding wouldn't be a problem on race day. The river was very low, so low in fact that the weaker swimmers could stop and stand up for a break! The big question was what the water temperature would be. If 78 degrees or above, then the racers couldn't wear wetsuits per USTA rules. Natch I was hoping for 79 degrees ...I mean, who wouldn't want to see a river full of swimsuit-clad hard-body women triathletes?? Alas, it was only 75 so most all the women wore Batman-looking wetsuits. Darn...

Gina had a great swim and was much faster than she expected. I guess if you get comfortable swimming in our cold ocean, a 75-degree calm river is easy. She says she knew hers was a decent swim because when she got to the bike racks for her swim-to-bike transition, IT WASN'T EMPTY!!

We had previewed the ride route the day before and it used some beautiful roads through redwood and oak forests and along rolling hills of wine vineyards (thus the name Vineman). The course had two sustained climbs, each about 500 feet of elevation gain, but mostly it was just flat to rolling. I knew she would jam on the ride and mow down a lot of the faster swimmers. My only fear for her was a flat tire or some other mechanical problem. No follow vehicles in triathlons; she would be on her own to fix any bike problems.

But everything went flawlessly. The bike worked as it should, and she ate and drank right on schedule and was in total control the whole way. She even managed a smile when I ran into her on the course.

She finished the 56-mile ride in under three hours and was quickly out on the run. I leap-frogged her and was noticing she seemed to be struggling a bit at first, particularly when she pulled off the course for a bout of dry heaves. Now I'm no expert, but that doesn't seem like a good way to start a 13.1-mile run in 90-degree heat.

But she knew what to do. She systematically stopped in all the feed zones and drank and ate enough to refuel and rehydrate and soon she was clicking off 8-minute miles.

So after four hours of swimming, riding, and running, she was cruising on auto-pilot. That's where all that training comes in I guess. Other girls were falling apart and Gina just kept motoring along. Not that she was totally alert or anything ...when I mentioned the cool cows and goats along the course, she didn't have a clue what I was talking about. She ran past them four times...

She finished strong in 5:32:10 and won her age group ...uhhh, that would be the 40-44 age group (sorry sweetie, this is journalism--I have to report the facts as I know them). Her time was also good enough for 8th overall out of several hundred women! That deserved a nice cold shower...

I was very proud of her performance and helped her enjoy part of her prize, a nice La Crema Pinot Noir. Winning the race was great, but more significant was the training journey over the months leading up to it. She never wavered or had second thoughts. What a great feeling to work hard for something and then have it all go right. Dare I say it, but there might be an full iron-man length race somewhere in her future!

Other random notes from the race:

* Part of the bike course used some of the same roads as the 1996 Masters Nationals RR. The roads up there in Sonoma county are spectacular ...I wonder why there aren't more (any?) road races up there!?! Is it because the wineries have so much influence and they don't want their wine-tasting customers inconvenienced in the slightest? Maybe they'll let us race there if we all promise to drink more wine. I'll do my part ...for the good of the sport.

* Waiting around at the end of the run, I heard the announcer mention "the VeloGirl relay team" so I wondered, hmmm, is that the VeloGirl whose blog I link to?? So I went up and asked, and sure enough, it was VeloGirl Lorri Lee Lown! Cool ...I love meeting other bloggers! She's a nice woman who trains and inspires a legion of women athletes in the Bay Area. Her tri team got 3rd and she wrote a nice race report on her blog.

* Coincidentally, the only other SB-area woman in the race (Alyssa Steffen) finished less than a minute behind Gina and was 9th overall. Small world, eh?!?


choo choo said...

Great job Gina!!!!
I'm exhausted just reading the report.

Steve Weixel said...

Ah, I remember that porta-potty line. Kim missed her start last year because of it! Congratulations Gina, I look forward to hearing all the details when you get back to work on Friday.

Mrs. Fanelli said...

Thanks Sweetie for the great race report. You know I couldn't have done it without you!!

cnhorowitz said...

Congrats to Gina. She more than deserved it.

TnA said...

Alright Gina! Awesome.

So, combining this result with the fact that she can out-armwrestle you, I guess it's pretty clear who's the real "stud" (or, would that be "stud-ette"?) in the family.

With a result like that, I think someone's earning a "bike/wheels upgrade". A little work on the bike and position and she might be looking at an overall podium spot!

Looks like your going to have to start sharing the bike budget ;-)

Marco Fanelli said...

choo-choo, You're still ezhausted from your sprint on Tuesday!

Steve, Details at work on Friday?? Huh!?! Gina doesn't ever talk about that stuff at work, right!? I'm sure you don't.

Mrs. Fanelli, That's exactly what I want you to think!

C-Witz, Congrats to you too on your nice victory at Sasquawtch!

TnA, If I could figure out how to do it, I'd delete your comment! Sharing the bike budget indeed ...Hmmphh!

Marco Fanelli said...

uuhhh, that would be "exhasuted" not "ezhausted" ...damn bandaged up finger...

velogirl said...

Hey, Marco! It was great to meet you and Gina. Congratulations again. I'm so impressed that you won your AG.

Gina, I noticed you did the race old skool, too (on a road bike). I bet you'd knock a few minutes off if you had a proper TT bike.

BTW, there was lots of car traffic on certain parts of the course. I'm sure that would prevent road races.

And the porta potty line was LONGER than at most bike races -- probably because there were so many more women.

I just made the leap and will be doing my first tri in September in SLO. Kinda like a stage race (3 events in 3 days -- hillclimb, road tri, mtn bike tri). you guys should come up and do it!

kraig said...

Congrats to mrs. fanelli! :-)

Marco Fanelli said...

Kraig and VeloGirl, Since Gina is away in Michigan this week with limited internet access, I'll say "thanks" for her!

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

tell Gina congrats from me, too.

5:32 is a damn good time up there (speaking as a recovering tri-geek).

toughness runs in the fanelli household, looks like.

Marco Fanelli said...

Will do, OV!

Good luck to you and all the bagboyz in the Calcup races.

Anonymous said...

Please tell Gina congratulations from her UCSB Master's swimming buddy. Winning her AG with a 5:32 on that course is an awesome day.

I did the open Vineman 2 weeks before and know the pain of that run in the heat. I didn't see the cows either.

Congrats - Rick Jones
ps- I work with tna, who showed me your cool sight.

Marco Fanelli said...

Hi Rick, I'll pass on your congrats. You can also catch her tomorrow at the UCSB pool I think.